The first thing I do every morning is tune in to CNN or MSNBC (whichever one isn’t on a commercial break gets my loyalty—until the next break). I do it because I have come to rely on Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings. So I decided today to take the liberty to condense some of his words from a couple of recent briefings.
Where do we go from here? It is a delicate balance. None of this has been done before. So anyone who says to you, “Oh, I know what we should do. I know.” Yeah, you don’t know, because nobody knows.
You look around the world, you see warning signs from countries who have opened. You can now go back and look at Wuhan Province, look at Italy, look at South Korea, and see what they did and see what worked and what didn’t work. So let’s learn. But remember, this is a delicate balance.
Do it carefully, do it slowly, and do it intelligently. More testing and more precautions at the same time as you’re calibrating and opening the valve. And while you’re opening that valve, watch the meter.
What’s the meter? The meter’s the infection rate, the daily hospitalization rates. There is a cause and effect. So yes, open the valve slowly, advised by experts. And if you see that infection rate start ticking up, undermining everything we have accomplished thus far, then you know you’ve opened the valve too fast.
When is it over? I have this conversation a hundred times a day. I had it last night with my daughters. When is it over? It’s a difficult conversation because people want it to be over so badly. Right? I want the fear to stop. I want the anxiety to stop. I don’t want to have to worry about my brother anymore. I don’t want to have to worry about my daughters. I don’t want to have to worry about my mother. I want it over. I want to get out of the house. I want to get back to normalcy. I’ve been living in this weird, disorienting, frightening place. I’m afraid to touch people.
When is it over? It’s not going to be over like that. It’s not going to be, we flick a switch and everybody comes out of the house and gets in their car and waves and hugs each other and the economy all starts up. I would love to say that’s going to happen. It’s not going to happen that way. It can’t happen that way. There is going to be no epiphany. There is going to be no morning where the headline says hallelujah, it’s over. That’s not going to happen.
I learned a lot by building a bridge across the Hudson River called the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was in very bad shape. For twenty years, everybody talked about, we’re going to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge, nobody did. There were actual holes that they would put these large metal plates over. And when you were driving over one of these metal plates, the plate would bounce a little bit and you could see glimmers of light that would come through the hole. Traumatized two generations of drivers, me included.
I become governor. I say we have to replace the bridge. The bureaucrats say to me, “You know what? It’s too risky a venture. The Hudson River’s an environmentally sensitive place. It’s going to be very expensive. It’s a very high risk, difficult project.” They cautioned me not to do it.
Long story short, we built the bridge on time, on budget. We did go through all the heartburn of going through a construction project in the public domain. Yes, many people criticized. We picked blue, they wanted green, we did this, they wanted that. That’s the nature of people. But we did it, we did it, and it is a beautiful symbol for me.
Have we dealt with a situation like this? No. Can we build a bridge that takes us from today to 18 months? Yes. Yes, because we are bridge builders. That’s what we do. We build bridges, sometimes literally, sometimes symbolically, sometimes metaphorically, but we build bridges.